We had a client recently ask that we send out our daily wellness tip and goal later in the morning. This email is designed so that when you wake up, you can see your wellness goals for the day. Of course, I am always trying to be responsive to our customers, so I started to look into it from the technology side.
Then, I realized the real issue: She was sleeping with her phone! The client got a beep for every new message received. The email we send goes out at 5 a.m. EDT and she lives in Colorado! Our helpful hint turned out to be an annoying 3 a.m. wake-up notice.
As with most wellness issues, a behavior change was needed.
Recharge and see the benefits
Sleep should be sleep. Unless you are on call to save lives, save your own. Get eight hours of rest. Recharge yourself while your smartphone does the same — in another room.
As the CEO, you can take the first step to help. If employees are on vacation and they email back immediately to a group email, let them know that you would prefer they relax and enjoy their vacation.
And, before you send a text message to the person on vacation, ask yourself if it’s really necessary. Create a culture that respects a person’s time off and have the rest of your senior team follow suit.
Go to most any meeting and at least 50 percent of people in the room are checking their smartphones while the speaker is talking. As leaders, we need to set a tone and manage expectations. If the senior team isn’t paying attention, the rest of the workforce won’t either.
“Presenteeism” (employees being at work but distracted) is a huge part of the billions lost each year in productivity due to health and wellness issues.
Here are five ways we can change this problem:
- Have a wellness program that engages people in all aspects of their health.
- Offer “mindfulness” classes to help employees learn to focus on the present.
- At meetings, consider checking smartphones at the door.
- Let vacations be vacations.
- Create a standard expectation for responsiveness in your corporate culture. This starts with you and your leadership team.
Why is this important?
The dollars lost from employees not being “present” is huge. But, you also need to help employees find balance in their lives. If you don’t, the good ones will leave. And, the not so good ones will hang on and go online to shop, tweet and do whatever while they should be working. There is also the somber side. You don’t want an accident on your hands due to an employee texting while driving or using company equipment.
Feel free to reach out to me with your questions. I can be reached at email@example.com. Since my iPhone recharges downstairs while I sleep upstairs, I will respond to you in the morning.
Sue Parks, a former top-level executive with USWest, Gateway and Kinkos, is a corporate wellness expert. She is the founder and chief executive officer of WalkStyles Inc., based in Irvine, Calif., and co-author of “iCount, 10 Simple Steps to a Healthy Life.” For more information, visit www.walkstyles.com.
I remember, as a 5-foot-5-inch executive, being at senior-level conferences and trying to act “taller.” I noticed and later read that the majority of CEOs are more than 6 feet tall. That is a personal stat that is hard to change. Lately, there is one other stat that is getting a lot of attention: BMI. For those of you not sure what BMI is, it is a measure of your body fat as determined by your height and weight.
A Wall Street Journal article highlighted research that showed that executives who have a BMI under 25 percent are perceived more positively by peers than those with BMIs over 25 percent. Why? Perhaps it has to do with self-control or discipline or energy levels. Regardless, it is a perception that can impact your career — and your company’s prospects.
The great thing about this is that you can do something about it. And, it doesn’t have to be doing triathlons or taking up hockey again after all these years. It is about moving more every day. How do you know how much you move? You track it.
Consider every other metric important to your company’s success. You track revenue, receivables, payables, aging inventory, product turns, absenteeism, retention and, I am sure, many other things. If it is important, you track it. As we all know, we achieve what we measure.
While you are thinking about what you personally can do to move more, think about how it would help the rest of your senior team and all your employees if they do the same.
How do you get started in this effort?
Create a baseline and then focus on continuous improvement. If you care about productivity, you need to pay attention. Studies have shown that the cost of obesity for every 1,000 workers equates to $285,000 each year. This number includes absenteeism, increased medical costs, worker’s compensation claims and increased drug costs.
Of course, not everyone is obese, although more than 70 percent of the people in the United States are overweight and obesity is now considered an epidemic.
Moving more helps everything. It helps our creativity, it keeps our brain younger, it helps ward off heart disease and cancer. You name it; it helps. (For more information on BMI, including how to calculate yours, go to this web page from the National Institutes of Health: www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/BMI/bmicalc.htm)
Make it happen
Wouldn’t it be great if your employees felt as accountable for their own health as they do for other aspects of the company? Productivity will soar, your retention will be at record levels and people will clamor to work for you. I couldn’t grow taller, but I could be in shape.
In a variety of top-level corporate jobs, I traveled all the time so a gym wasn’t always an option. So I put on a pedometer and started tracking.
Soon, my senior team all started wearing them. We started doing walking meetings. One-on-one sessions while we were moving became the norm. We started sharing our goals and cheering for each other.
I personally began tracking 10,000 steps a day. And, we became the fastest growing division within the company — by profits — not by waistlines.
If it seems like a big undertaking, consider an outside wellness expert to help you set up a plan, create the metrics and lead the implementation and engagement.
Yes, size counts. You want increases in your bottom-line and shrinkage at the waistline.
Sue Parks, a former top-level executive with USWest, Gateway and Kinkos, is a corporate wellness expert. She is the founder and CEO of WalkStyles Inc., www.walkstyles.com, based in Irvine, Calif., and co-author of “iCount, 10 Simple Steps to a Healthy Life.”